The Hindu conclaves at Tirupati last year and at Paryag, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and New Delhi recently must be hailed as excellent starting points in forging the various Hindu sects. Such conclaves must be continued elsewhere in the country as a five-year plan.
The second task in creating a Hindu vote bank is to destroy some prevalent misconceptions. Foremost among these misconceptions is that the Hindu politicians are not secular but communal. This humongous lie needs to be exposed once and for all.
To do that, it'snecessary to recall that the word ?secular? to describe India was added in the Preamble of our Constitution by Indira Gandhi government's42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976 without defining that word. Hence, when the Janata Party government defined ?secular? to mean ?equal respect to all religions? in its Constitution Amendment Bill of 1977, the definition, though passed in the Lok Sabha, did not become a reality because the Rajya Sabha, where the Congress then held the majority, ruled against it. Why? No one has ever dared the Congress to tell the nation why.
The fact is that, ever since then, the Congress, the Communists and other sundry groups of political parties have shied away from pinpointing the meaning of ?secular?. Former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Ahmadi, even had the audacity to pronounce in a judgment that the word ?secular? was an ?elastic word? and therefore welcomed the fact that the word remained undefined. The result has been that while all political outfits have merely mouthed being ?secular? without explaining what they meant by that, the BJP alone has had the slogan ?Justice to All, Appeasement of none?, thus clearly stating its stand on all matters including religion. This little bit of political reality needs to be now dinned into the mind of the entire nation in order to enlarge the Hindu vote bank.
Three other issues which beckon such mass exposure are the Hindu demand for Ram Temple at Ayodhya, Uniform Civil Code for the country and abrogation of Article 370 from the Constitution. These three issues have long been projected by cunning ?secularists? as being part of the communal Hindu agenda. Sadly, the Hindus have not exposed this accusation as being just one more lie. Now is the time to do it in the interest of a Hindu vote bank.
Start with Ayodhya. Hindus have demanded the Ram Janmabhoomi site basically as a legal right to one'sproperty and wished to remove the mosque on it as an encroachment on it ? just as any landlord wants the removal of any encroachment on what belongs to him. And, believe it or not, the Hindu community'slegal claim to the temple land was accepted by a British district judge in?1886!! In a civil appeal by Mahant Raghubirdas for repossession of the Ram Janmabhoomi site, Colonel F.E.A.Chamier ruled, inter alia, that ?It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy that grievance. All that can be done is to maintain the parties in status quo?any innovation could cause more harm ? than benefit.? That paralysis caused by fear of traditional Muslim wrath and violence has persisted till now. Ashok Chowgule of VHP has much more on the Ayodhya issue in his records. It must now all be brought into the public domain in every nook and corner of the country.
The demand for a Uniform Civil Code is another which is criticised as a Hindu demand. Again, this is a monumental lie. Firstly, our secular Constitution itself provides for that code in Article 44; then how can it be labeled as a communal Hindu demand? Secondly, in January 2000, the UN'sConvention on Elimination of All Discrimination against Women chastised the Indian delegation for neglecting the UCC and exhorted India to enact a secular family law. So why should the nation not do what the United Nations wants? Sadly, the Hindus haven'tdriven this point home. This must now be corrected.
Similarly, the demand for abrogation of Article 370 is to remove the gross injustice to thousands of Indian citizens residing in Jammu & Kashmir state who, under a perverse dispensation of that Article, are denied the right to government jobs, the right to vote in the state assembly elections, the right to contest any local election and the right to government scholarships for their children. Further, under that Article, J&K is the only state that has the right to deny the applicability of a Parliamentary law or Constitutional amendment to itself. For example, J&K has refused to insert ?secular? in the Preamble of its State Constitution. What ?equality? then are we talking about?
Samarth Ramdas succeeded in reviving Hindu pride and power through Shivaji'skingdom in Maharashtra. The Swami'ssingle-handed effort must now inspire all Hindus to do just that five centuries later all over India. And it behoves the educated Hindu to take the lead in whichever little way he can.
(The writer can be contacted at 202, Dosti Erica, Antop Hill, Wadala (E), Mumbai-400 037.)